Active body, healthy mind
No obstacle can stop you from reaching your health and fitness goals
No obstacle can stop you from reaching your health and fitness goals
A total of 11.7m working days were lost in 2015/2016 as a result of people suffering from stress, depression and anxiety
L ooking after your body and your mind when you’re trying to sustain an active lifestyle isn’t as easy as simply going to the gym every now and then and throwing some lettuce in with your dinner. There are a whole host of important factors to consider including your mental wellbeing, the impact of your menstrual cycle and dealing with injuries. Dr Juliet Mcgrattan’s new booksorted: Theactivewoman’s Guidetohealth (Bloomsbury, £16.99/£14.99 ebook) should be your first port of call and covers off a whole range of important health issues. We’ve taken a look at a variety of concerns that could be stopping you reaching your full potential and how you can overcome them.
There’s still a significant stigma when it comes to discussing mental health. Many of us would feel comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor to discuss a physical ailment, but shy away from the prospect of talking about the state of our minds. Absolutely anyone could be silently suffering from mental health issues, but be too ashamed to discuss it out in the open. Your mental health can have a profound effect on your life. The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) taken in Great Britain in 2016 by the Health and Safety Executive found that a grand total of 11.7 million working days were lost in 2015/2016 as a result of people suffering from stress, depression and anxiety.
Your mental health can also impact your sporting performance, making you feel less confident about your goals. It’s completely normal to feel nervous before a big sporting event, but another thing entirely to suffer from anxiety. Juliet discusses the effect anxiety can have on your athletic abilities insorted: ‘When you’re anxious you have high levels of stress hormones and neurotransmitters. These include adrenaline and cortisol which are released when you’re in a dangerous situation. This is called your “fight or flight” reaction, it’s your body’s emergency mode which is activated if your survival is at risk.’ As a result, you may start to feel overwhelmed in ordinary situations and unable to act in the way you normally would.
If you believe that you’re suffering from mental health problems, it’s important to start a conversation with someone you can trust, whether that be a friend, family member or GP. Sharing is definitely caring!
Digestion is a simple process, but can be made more complicated if you suffer from digestive issues. Even the most common digestive issues can wreak havoc in your daily routine and prevent you from living your life to the full.
According to the book, women are twice as likely to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome as men and it tends to strike when we hit our twenties, but it can start at any age and varies from mildly inconvenient to severely debilitating. ‘There’s a lot we don’t understand about IBS. The bowel seems to simply become over-sensitive, leading to a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These symptoms may come and go and you might not get all of them.’ Dealing with digestive problems such as IBS, acid reflux and runner’s trots can be incredibly frustrating, but there are ways that you can manage them in order to make the most of your active lifestyle.
When you exercise regularly, it’s crucial to be aware of what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. ‘A medium-sized snack or small meal 30 minutes to two hours before your run is optimal. The amount of time you need to eat before your run is dependent upon how you feel. Some people can run within 15 minutes of eating and others can’t move for two hours,’ says Carly Yue, health and fitness expert at DW Fitness Clubs. ‘Listen to your body and do what is best for you.’ If you can sense your tummy feeling irritated during exercise, try eating earlier than you normally would and see if it makes a difference. If you’re unable to get specific recommendations from a doctor or nutritionist, then your best bet may be a case of trial and error.
For some reason, even though around half the human population have periods every month, the menstrual cycle still remains something of a taboo subject. There’s nothing embarrassing about periods, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be annoying at times. Experiencing heavy periods can put a massive dampener on your mood, not to mention put you at risk of leakage and prevent you from exercising entirely. ‘Periods
The benefits of exercise go past simply losing weight or toning up – physical activity can also lift your mood drastically
can affect exercise in a number of ways, but generally they’re a bit of a pain,’ Juliet writes insorted. ‘They can put a complete stop to it if your bleeding is very heavy or painful. If you’re out of action for four days a month that’s 48 days a year you won’t be benefitting from exercise.’ Taking time off from exercise because of your period is so frustrating but unfortunately, it’s a problem that’s all too familiar for many women.
The Female Athlete Health Group, a project created in collaboration between St Mary’s University and University College London, undertook two surveys to determine how periods affect women during exercise – including one that surveyed London Marathon competitions. A total of 1,862 women were surveyed including 90 considered to be elite athletes. Nearly 42 per cent of participants said that they felt that their menstrual cycle did make a difference to their athletic performance. However, that doesn’t mean that exercising on your period is a no-no.
There are many methods that you can adopt to make exercising when you’re on your period a doddle. If you have a heavy flow, you can wear period pants designed to stop leaking. If you suffer from particularly painful periods, your GP may suggest you try taking the pill. Everyone is unique, so make sure you seek professional advice from your doctor if you haven’t yet found a solution that works for you.
Any seasoned athlete will tell you that risk of injury is something they have to deal with frequently. Hurting yourself is no fun at all, especially if it means having to take time out from exercising. First and foremost, the best way to deal with a sporting injury is to seek treatment as early as possible. There’s no point in putting on a brave face and keeping your mouth shut if you’re in pain. You’ll just end up causing further injury to yourself and feeling like a fool for not sorting it out sooner.
Insorted, Juliet talks us through using the PRICE technique as a form of immediate first aid to ease pain and help aid recovery from an injury. PRICE stands for: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. By following these easy steps, you could put a stop to a potentially serious injury.
There are many common sporting injuries that you probably will have heard of, even if you haven’t experienced them personally. Sprains are overstretched ligaments that occur either when you haven’t warmed up properly or haven’t recovered efficiently post-exercise. Shin splints frequently affect runners, as they can be caused by running on uneven surfaces or wearing the wrong trainers. Achilles tendonitis can manifest as a result of putting too much pressure on the Achilles tendon during intense bouts of exercise. Even if an injury seems minor, it’s always better to be safe than sorry
and sort it out sooner rather than later to avoid further damage.
Exercise can be just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Finding the drive to go to the gym or head out on a run can be really difficult at times, especially if you’re dealing with an injury or a stressful situation is getting you down. Remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing will definitely spur you on and give you the little boost you need to keep going. The benefits of exercise go past simply losing weight or toning up – physical activity can also lift your mood drastically. Whenever you’re feeling a dip in your motivation levels, just remind yourself how positive exercise makes you feel.
Making sure that you maintain an active lifestyle doesn’t just mean finding the time to exercise. It also involves avoiding being sedentary for too long during the day. Let’s admit it – a lot of us are guilty of sitting down for the majority of the day, either at our desks or on the way to and from work. The National Travel Survey carried out by the Department of Transport in 2015 found that walking is the second most common form of transportation, but only for very short distances. The average time spent walking somewhere is a mere 18 minutes – but finding ways to walk more during the day is actually easier than you think. You can walk up the escalator rather than stand to the side, or get off the bus a couple of stops earlier than your usual destination and walk for 30 minutes. Just make sure you keep moving!